Enyimba FC on Sunday claimed the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) title for the ninth time after an exhilarating 1-1 draw with deposed champions Rivers United in Lagos.
The People’s Elephant went into the night game at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos on the final day of the nine-day tournament, knowing that a draw would see them clinch the title and they earned just that.
Inspired winger Ekene Awazie put Enyimba in front in the 39th minute when he punished a bit of slothful defending by United from just eight yards out. It was a fitting goal for the winger who has had his best spell in his Enyimba career at this Championship PlayOff.
ENYIMBA ON TOP!— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) June 11, 2023
Peep the celebration among Enyimba fans, players and crew plus THE FLARES!!!
Enyimba lead courtesy of Ekene Awazie’s goal. What a tournament he has had. #NPFLSuper6 #NPFL23ChampionshipPlayoff pic.twitter.com/1IA7iO3KYA
Rivers United however forced their way back into the game early in the second half when Nyima Nwagua bundled the ball over the line after Chidiebube Duru’s vicious free kick came off the cross bar.
Enyimba then looked to go back in front but Chibuike Nwaiwu’s header to Sadiq Abubakar’s corner was pushed onto the cross bar by Rivers United goalkeeper Sochima Ndukauba in the 73rd minute,
There were no further goals in the contest as Enyimba held on for their ninth title, with the last two coming in Lagos at the end of the Super Six tournaments (in 2019 and now 2023).
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Like it was in 2019 when Enyimba finished third in their abridged league Group A before blazing past their opponents at the Agege Township Stadium, the Aba giants also finished 3rd in Group A this season before going through the PlayOff unbeaten.
The result also meant that former Super Eagles star Finidi George (who is assisted by Yemi Olanrewaju Yema) wins the league title for Enyimba in his second year as head coach and in his first major football management role.
Up next for the People’s Elephant now is an appearance at the inaugural Naija Super 8 tournament scheduled to comment with a PlayOff in Eket in two weeks’ time.